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US FDA warns of hand sanitizers with potentially dangerous methanol contamination

The US Food and Drug Administration has added more types of hand sanitizer to its growing list of products that are either confirmed or potentially contaminated with toxic methanol.

More than two dozen hand sanitizer products sold by Mexico-based 4E Global — many carrying the Blumen label — contain high levels of methanol and have been recommended for recall, the agency said.
The FDA said it has seen an increase in products containing ethanol, also known as ethyl alcohol, that tested positive for potentially poisonous methanol contamination.

Methanol can be life-threatening if ingested and toxic if absorbed through the skin. States have also reported cases of blindness, hospitalizations and deaths in adults and children after drinking hand sanitizer products tainted with methanol, the FDA said.

Methanol, or wood alcohol as it’s often known, is used in antifreeze and fuel production. Exposure can also cause nausea, headaches, dizziness, agitation, amnesia, coma and seizures, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC advises people to frequently wash their hands with soap and water to avoid contracting the novel coronavirus. If soap and water are not available, the CDC recommends using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% ethanol.

The FDA is urging consumers to check their hand sanitizers to find out if they are on the list of bad products posted on the agency’s website and to report any adverse events or quality problems.